War of words over Great Yarmouth funding

  • 21 December 2012
  • From the section England
  • comments

The sum of money the government gives to councils is always controversial but in one place in the east this year it is particularly so.

The Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth happens to be a local government minister. The resort's council happens to be run by Labour.

It is set to receive the largest cut in the country, a whopping 19.3%, and if you think that might cause ructions, you'd be right.

Although most councils in the region are getting less money from the government, they are facing much smaller reductions of just under 2%.

Brandon Lewis, the town's MP, wants councils to share more services to save money - and points to a Breckland partnership with South Holland as a great example. He says Great Yarmouth should have joined them in sharing services.

Great Yarmouth Council Labour leader Trevor Wainwright believes it is now being punished: "This is a kick in the teeth. We're taking a massive hit.

"If we get transition money of £1.8m it will be with strings attached.

"There are 360 local authorities in this country. Only 60 councils around the country are sharing and not many share senior management.

"Why are are we being singled out by the very MP who represents this borough?"

Mr Lewis replied: "I am not criticising this council, but the last government.

"Savings can be made with a shared management structure. That's extra money. This is residents' money and taxpayers' money and we have to get to a state of efficiency.

"We are not giving Great Yarmouth a kick in the teeth. We have found some money so that the council can have another two years of transitional relief in order for it not to be dependant on government funding so much."

Labour reversed the previous Tory administration's plans to share management with South Holland and Breckland - an authority which has become known locally as Shrekland.

Mr Wainwright believes that becoming Shrekland would only have saved £170,000, when savings of £10m are needed.

"We are closer to Holland in Europe than we are to South Holland," he said.

That argument is not likely to sway Mr Lewis.